Food stamp benefit increase going away

October 25th, 2013

clarion ledgerAppeared in the Clarion Ledger October 25, 2013

Mississippians and others receiving food stamps will see their monthly benefits reduced beginning next Friday.

A 2009 stimulus bill that raised Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits is ending.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says benefits depend on many things like income, household size and expenses. The average reduction for a household of four will be $36 monthly, according to the department.

The stimulus bill was enacted to help the economy and people affected by the recession.

“SNAP is a safety net for many residents here in Mississippi. This decrease in available benefits will affect not only SNAP recipients, but grocers and markets across the state,” said Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director Rickey Berry.

“MDHS administers the federal program and has no control over the cuts,” Berry said. “SNAP is intended to be a supplement to eligible households, so I encourage anyone in need of food assistance to complete an application so that eligibility may be determined.”

Berry said 671,800 people in Mississippi receive food stamps benefits totaling $83.4 million.

On Oct. 1, food stamp recipients received an annual cost-of-living benefit increase amounting to a maximum $9 a month increase for recipients.

But now, the cost-of-living increase will be virtually wiped out with the reduction in benefits.

A report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says more than 47 million people nationwide, including 22 million children, in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will be affected.

“This small increase in SNAP benefits has helped thousands of struggling families in Mississippi stay afloat during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” said Jessica Shappley, policy analyst for the Mississippi Economic Policy Center. “For many of these families, this modest assistance is providing a lifeline to those who are struggling to find work or are working at jobs that do not pay them enough to put food on the table.”

The cuts will reduce the program by $5 billion in fiscal 2014.

Legislation defeated in the U.S. House would have cut $20 billion from SNAP, eliminating the assistance for nearly two million people.

Clarion-Ledger Political Editor Geoff Pender contributed to this story.

Back to main news page